June 22, 2022

The Founder-Angel Investor Connection with Sameer Sait & John Stewart

by Cyber Ranch

Show Notes

Allan invites a founder and an angel investor to the ranch this week to talk about how founders and angel investors really connect. Meet Sameer Sait, former CISO at Amazon Whole Foods and now founder of BalkanID, and John Stewart, former CISO at Cisco and investor at Talons Ventures. Together, these gentlemen offer a lot about both sides of the investment story, from evaluation to the decision to work together, and what a mutually beneficial founder and angel investor relationship looks like.

 

Timecoded Guide:

[01:23] Exploring John and Sameer’s backgrounds in cyber and how they developed their own unique founder-angel investor connection

[04:53] Understanding the triggering aspects that caused someone like John to become an angel investor in BalkanID and how BalkanID selected their investors

[08:20] Delving into the uniqueness of different founder-investor relationships and how John (vs other BalkanID investors) makes his impact on Sameer’s work as a founder

[13:30] Giving expert advice and explaining lessons learned in founding your first company and in investing in startups 

[22:12] Exploring how other experiences in life, outside of cybersecurity and investing, has informed John and Sameer’s work with BalkanID and with solving cyber issues

 

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsor Axonius for bringing this episode to life!

Life is complex. But it’s not about avoiding challenges or fearing failure. Just ask Simone Biles — the greatest gymnast of all time. Want to learn more about how Simone controls complexity? Watch her video at axonius.com/simone.

 

What inspired you to become a founder of BalkanID, Sameer?

As the former CISO of Amazon Whole Foods and an investor at numerous cybersecurity companies, Sameer has a great resume to show off. However, his work with BalkanID offered him the opportunity to be a founder, something that Sameer had never done before. When asked what inspired him to be a first-time founder, he tells us that he continuously encountered the same problems over and over again, and wasn’t seeing anyone coming up with the right solution. Continuing to move forward with so much at stake with this issue of entitlements felt like a missed opportunity, and with the right investors and co-founders on his side, BalkanID was born.

“I knew that we could do better, right? And I knew the existing solutions were not scaling. And I think the last inspiration was really finding the right co-founders to go at this with. That was the biggest inspiration of all.” - Sameer Sait

 

John, what were the triggering factors that made you decide to invest in BalkanID? 

Just like Sameer, John has some incredible experience to show off in the tech world and in the investment world. But why BalkanID? A simple answer would be the connection between these two men, having met numerous times throughout their careers, developing a strong working relationship. However, John sees so much potential in BalkanID and in Sameer beyond just their work friendship. John believes that you don’t invest in tech, you invest in people, and the qualities he sees in Sameer as a founder and a leader in the tech world excites him and he felt he could lend his expertise to BalkanID in a beneficial way.

“Sameer is very self-aware. These things matter. He knows what he knows, he knows what he doesn't know, he's comfortable bringing in people that complement his skills and make a stronger team around him. In the end, that's why I say you bet on people, not on tech.” - John Stewart

 

What advice do you have for potential investors looking to get involved in startups, John?

Being an investor isn’t always easy, and John has made some mistakes that taught him the hard way about how to be a good investor. With a hands-on approach and now tons of projects under his belt, John is asked to give some advice to future investors. A hugely important piece of advice from John is to know your founder, know their wants and needs, and to see ahead of what their future holds. You’re an investor, but it is their company, and you have to be aligned in order to produce a mutually beneficial relationship. 

“As an investor, I follow out and look for all of those things. I look at how optionality is, how CEOs think, how many chances they have, what directions could they go. Are they strategically capable of looking beyond today's decision and thinking about what might happen in the future?” - John Stewart

 

Sameer, what advice would you give fellow founders?

Despite his experiences at other companies, BalkanID is Sameer’s first founding experience so far. His biggest lesson to date? Not getting caught up in the buzz and the hype. BalkanID’s approach to their audience and their product has been to focus on their customer and work backwards to find their problem and their ideal solution. This takes time, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing your revenue, launches, products, and marketing tactics of other companies. This only hurts your brand in the long-run because you’ll no longer be focused on your customer’s problem. 

“As an early stage, first-time entrepreneur, a part of me would get nervous. ‘Oh, my God, look what's happening out there. Oh, we're so slow.’ I think of taking a step back and saying, ‘Well, we are on our journey,’ right? We have supporters, we have backers, we have a real problem we're solving. The fact that other people want to solve the same problem is validation that it's a real problem.” - Sameer Sait

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Links:

Stay in touch with Sameer Sait on LinkedIn and the BalkanID website.

Stay in touch with John Stewart on LinkedIn.

Follow Allan Alford on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a Cyber Ranch Podcast T-Shirt at the Hacker Valley Store 

Continue this conversation on our Discord

Listen to more from the Hacker Valley Studio and The Cyber Ranch Podcast



Transcript

John 00:00
Yes, you're an investor, but it's their company. The founding team and the team that are building it, it's their company. And so, what do they want out of it? Do they want to lifestyle business? Do they want to IPO company? Do they want to sell it? Do they want to do it next year, three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now? And start getting highly aligned as to what they're thinking. And then, of course, back testing quite a bit because markets move around and things change.
Allan 00:24
Howdy, y'all, and welcome to this Cyber Ranch podcast. That's John Stewart, former CISO at Cisco and investor at Talons Ventures. And he's here with me at the Ranch along with Sameer Sait, former CFO at Amazon Whole Foods and now founder of BalkanID. I brought these two gentlemen together here to talk with me about how founder and angel investors connect, how they evaluate each other, decide to work together, and what working together actually looks like. It's a great conversation, and I'm learning a lot from both of them on both sides of the story. I think you'll enjoy their perspectives as much as I'm enjoying chatting with them. And I'm very grateful that both of these gentlemen could join me here at the Ranch.
Ron 01:02
Welcome to the Cyber Ranch podcast, recorded under the big blue skies of Texas, where one CISO explores the cybersecurity landscape with the help of friends and experts. Here's your host, Allan Alford.
Allan 01:23
Briefly, John, why don't you tell us a bit about your background in cyber and a bit about your day job?
John 01:28
35 years in cyber, Allan, started off back in the day at the Morse Jr worm, and then, went over to NASA Ames, went to Cisco for my first stint, left to build a company called Digital Island, went back to Cisco for about 18 years until 2020. And then, I stepped away from that to become an entrepreneurial investor, as well as advisor and some give-back work that we're doing with some wildlife poaching problems that we're fighting in illegal wildlife trafficking. That's about the highlight of 35 years in the span of about 15 to 35 seconds.
Allan 02:03
I love it. Alright, Sameer, how about you?
Sameer 02:06
Yeah, I don't think my background is as dynamic as John's, but I started in security maybe 18 or 20 years ago, actually in risk management. So, I started in the IT GRC audit space, and then, kind of worked my way up, made myself super uncomfortable by running teams that knew a lot more than I did, and taught me quite a bit. Most recently, I left Amazon Whole Foods to start my own company, which you mentioned BalkanID. So, that's been a lot of fun.
Allan 02:35
Alright, so, what inspired you to become a founder, Sameer?
Sameer 02:37
Well, I think the big thing, for me, was that I saw a problem that I saw again, and again, and again. And as much as I liked solving it for the company that I was at, I saw this as a broader issue around entitlements for all, especially in a cloud-first, SAAS and public cloud space. For me, it took a little time validating the problem across my peer group. I think what really inspired me was, I saw the risk from multiple fronts, right? When you see entitlement sprawl and it's only being solved with an access review that's essentially a rubber-stamping activity, I knew that we could do better, right? And I knew the existing solutions were not scaling. And I think the last inspiration was really finding the right cofounders to go at this with. That was the biggest inspiration of all.
Allan 03:21
Alright, well, that transitions this nicely. John, I want to hear how you and Sameer met.
John 03:26
We've actually had three meetings, in a way of looking at it. The first one was when we're both in operating roles. So, over at Whole Foods for him and Cisco for me. The second one was when I was asked to take on a director role in a company he was an investor in. And then, the third one was when he was putting BalkanID together and invited me to be one of the investors in the company. So, we've kind of had a whole different set of chapters on both of our careers intersecting each and every time.
Allan 03:55
I wonder how common that story is, that founders and investors have known each other throughout the industry before actually cementing the new relationship, right? I wonder how common that is. How about you, Sameer? Anything to add to that?
Sameer 04:05
Yeah, the first time I met John, he's right about the first interaction. I was still at Amazon Whole Foods, and I sent him a cold LinkedIn in-mail, and he was nice enough to find time to meet with me. John is
super impressive, I mean, he's talked about his background, but his time and his ability to make you feel like the most important person in the conversation, give you advice. Not unsolicited, I had to probe it out of John. A lot of what John said to me was, "You know, your journey is unique, right? You have had some unique aspects to your journey. And sometimes, you just got to take a step back and think about it, versus me telling you how I did things at Cisco," which I think is very powerful that we all have our own journeys.
John 04:45
By the way, you were the most important person in the world and in that room, so that was pretty easy to say.
Allan 04:53
I like that. Alright, John, so what made you decide to invest? Obviously, a prior relationship, but that's usually not enough to make somebody put money on the table. Like, what were the triggering factors for you that said, "You know what, I'm going to invest in this guy and invest in this new venture?"
John 05:06
So, I've always said, you bet on people, you don't bet on tech. And, you know, Sameer is just an impressive person. So, if you see his passion come out during today, it wouldn't be at all surprising. He was taking on what is still a way too complicated space between combination of items that he's seen operationally that just needed fixing. And he said, you know, instead of waiting for somebody else to fix it, I'm gonna go aim to do that myself. He brought a team around him, he's very self-aware. And these things matter, where he knows what he knows, he knows what he doesn't know, he's very, very comfortable bringing in people that complement his skills, that make a stronger team around him. And then, in the end, that's why I say you bet on people, not on tech, you know it when you talk to him that he's sincere about wanting to do the right thing, generally. He's very passionate and very competitive and wants to win and get it done. He knows how to complement himself in terms of making the strongest team, which is, candidly, the only way anybody gets through any of this.
Allan 06:07
Yep. Surround yourself with people who are better at what they do, then you are yourself, right? So, Sameer, how did you go about picking your investors, right? I mean, obviously, John's not your only one, and you've got your own criteria for what you chose. How did you go about selecting your investor? How did you settle on John? And how did you settle on the others?
Sameer 06:26
Yeah, I mean, something that I learned pretty early on was that the largest check doesn't always provide the most amount of value day one. And so, I was very passionate about getting angels versus just taking money from large VCs, as a name brand. One, because I think that a lot of the angels that I went to are friends of yours, mine, Allan, as part of our many CISO network groups. The second is, I think, finding people that actually have a shared vision to solve problems in cybersecurity. And they don't have to be CISOs, by the way, it just so happened that I know a number of them like you do. And then, I think my co-founder having had a successful exit in the past, he had a number of deck product, CTO type folks that found this idea to be compelling, and saw that as a problem as well. As you know, a lot of security problems impact much more than just the CISO organization. And they really bought in and we've got a variety of angels who supported us early on.
Allan 07:30
I like that. So, you meet some folks, you've got your connections, largely industry connections, you find people that are passionate about solving the problem. Now, what about your criteria? You've sort of got a variety of angel investors, and I'm assuming you sort of brokered unique deals with each one, like there's not just a generic sign here and invest this way, according to these terms. I'm assuming you have to get into negotiations with every investor, and you've probably got sort of unique deals on the table, so to speak, for each one.
Sameer 07:54
Actually, no, we were pretty democratic about it. And we had the same terms, same kind of terms across the board. I'd say that the amount invested was different, obviously, across different people, their comfort level is different, but no, we kept it very democratic and very straightforward.
Allan 08:10
I like that. I didn't know you could pull that off. I kind of assumed every investor would want to come in and wrangle their own sort of deal.
John 08:16
Oh, we do. It doesn't mean he's gonna let us, it just means we want to.
Allan 08:20
Right, right, right. Fantastic. Fantastic answer. So, Sameer is holding his line there. I feel the need real quick to do a quick disclaimer, too. I should mention just full and total transparency, John is also an investor in my day job. And Sameer and I have had conversations about me investing in his organization, haven't done it yet. I'm having conversations with my wife, but it's entirely possible that I end up investing in Sameer's organization as well. So, just total transparency and full disclaimer there. So, John, back over to you. I know that you invest in a lot of startups, right? Not just my day job, not just Sameer, but you got a lot of activities going on. How about you? The deal being unique from your perspective, I'm assuming every one of these ends up being a whole different conversation, you've maybe got different degrees of involvement and engagement, slightly different terms, slightly different equity. What does that landscape look like for you?
John 09:06
Well, to me, the notion of how much I invest, and by the way, the talent ventures itself is really my money. It's not somebody else's thing. I didn't create a fund, I didn't do fundraising outside of what I'd put together for myself and my family and the like, and so, as a result, the risks that I'm taking are for my own benefit, or cost, depending on how it goes. So, the side effect that is how much money I invest depends and directly relates to what kind of contributions I actively will want to make. And then, of course, in the what I would call the passively, or just contributory sense, it's consistent. So, here's how it plays out. Every company I aligned to, their brand and my brand have now become linked. And I believe that integrity on that kind of level is an insanely powerful force, and it's the one thing I want to make sure it's very, very clear that I own and I want to maintain because it's something I've built for so long and I want the company to be able to do the same, and we both get the benefit as a result. So, if the two of us get together, we both succeed in that respect. But past that, it's around very specific
domains, what kind of areas of interest that I believe need to be solved. Entitlements for all, for example, a simple example, and witness with Sameer is aiming to do, but then, it's beyond that. And I want to be able to contribute actively in some way, shape, or form, but as the money goes up, in other words, the size of investment goes up, then I'm going to take more of a controlling position into it, very oftentimes sitting on the board of directors of the company. And that's got to match, by the way, as we all know, because team dynamics are super important, especially to founders. You can't have someone that's very, very divergently different thinking, in a negative way, to a founder because they need the clarity all the time, and they need the push and the input and the insight and the discussion, the questions. So, that's kind of how it ranges and, finally, and certainly not to underestimate this, I always say being an independent board member, even if I'm an investor of my own money, I want to be the best friend and the strongest critic to help a founder be successful. So, I'll be a great friend, but don't get me wrong, I'm gonna push. And it's not because I think they're wrong, or they're not, it's just that's what founders need. They need a safe place to be able to be pushed back and forth, where they're not dealing with institutional investors and the like. So, it ranges quite a bit, but that's how it's yielded, and it's a model that I've been building for probably the better part of 15 years.
Allan 11:24
I love it. So, it's kind of a combination of investor, advisor, foil, if you will. Exactly. Sounds like a solid plan. So, Sameer, how about you? Do you have other relationships with other investors? You know, sort of the inverse of that whole conversation John just shared with us?
Sameer 11:38
Yeah, I've done some angel investments as well. I think it's fair to say what John said is accurate. I don't know if I take as much of a controlling share, or I don't push as hard. I'm more of a sounding board, more of a product market fit kind of person. I like to talk along those lines, I tend to get pretty tactical on the discussion, so I can help on that front. I think I do a fair bit of research on my own around: What are the competitive players in the space? What's the USP for this product? Or, the minimum sellable product, if you will? So, yeah, I take a little different approach, but then my checks are probably smaller and I have a focus on my own startup, right?
Allan 12:13
Right. So, how about your startup? How about other investors? Do you have other investors that are advisors, that are board members? How about those relationships?
Sameer 12:21
Yeah, so, we were very careful about kind of adding on the advisors. So, we talked about investors already, I think the advisor side has been mostly on the product management, product marketing, some very well-connected individuals with ideal customers that we need to kind of partner with early on to kick the tires with what we've built. So, we have a few advisors, just on that front, but haven't really scaled the advisory side yet, till we get that initial set of kind of early adopters.
Allan 12:51
I like that. So, design partners almost as the right term there.
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Allan 13:30
Alright, so, John, how about advice for investors? Like, others that want to follow in your footsteps here and want to invest in startups. What's your go-to rules? What's your high-level advice? How do you move towards this?
John 13:43
I can certainly use any of the mistakes I've made, just as much as any of the successes I've made. Well, again, I hate to repeat something too many times, but I don't think it's too many times yet. You bet on the people, not the tech. It's super easy to get in love with tech and then just go wow, that's cool thing since sliced bread. Of course, it's so obvious, but truth be known is the people behind it are the ones you're going to be betting on the entire time. So, look deep. And by the way, the smartest people in the room doesn't necessarily always equal guaranteed success. A sense of humility with confidence is a very, very important aspect about this. Gosh knows, founders need to be resilient. On a Monday, it's going to be a great day, but on a Tuesday, they're going to be feeling like the world's coming to an end. And by Friday, they will have gone up and down at least twice more, just because that's the nature of the beast. And so, as an investor, I follow out and look for all of those things. I look how optionality is, how CEOs think, how many chances do they have, what directions could they go. Are they strategically capable of looking beyond today's decision and thinking about what might happen in the future? Simple example would be the economy. We all know what that feels like right now. Six months ago, I was talking to investors about what happens in a down economy, not because I had any pressing need to know that there was a down economy in our future, it's just you have to plan for both ways.
John 14:59
As an investor, I think that the other one to keep in mind is, you always have to essentially say, "Hey, look, I am capable of losing this money." Number one. Number two, I am capable of getting this money at an even-out, so nothing gained, nothing lost, and that would still be considered a win. And then, for me, and I'm highly competitive, then you want the wind column to go up into the right. And this begets an important aspect about investing. Yes, you're an investor, but it's their company. The founding team and the team that are building it, it's their company. And so, what do they want out of it? Do they want a lifestyle business? Do they want IPO company? Do they want to sell it? Do they want to do it next year, three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now? And start getting highly aligned as to what they're thinking. And then, of course, back test it quite a bit because markets move around and things change.
John 15:48
And then, the end analysis, I guess what I'm simply suggesting is there's a lot of homework to do. Start slow, start small, start getting confidence, find a couple of mistakes. I'll give you those now. And then, be able to say, "Okay, now I'm starting to get the hang of this thing and it's not a big surprise." So, mistakes that I've made. One mistake would include the information you're being told, especially if you know people that are working in the company, is dead accurate. Don't trust that that's true. It's not that anyone's trying to mislead you. It's just the fact that, once you actually dig deeper in a couple layers, I've made mistakes of going too quickly, signing on, and finding out that the information I had was either halfway, or completely wrong. Again, no one's trying to do anything wrong, it's just they're a little too close to it, and sometimes don't see it. So, I shortcut my diligence at times and I am aiming never to do that again. The astonishing side effects of that are huge and widen, quite varietally base. And the second thing is, make sure that the founding team knows who's going to take over if somebody has to step away for any number of life reasons. So, what's gonna happen if Sameer has to step away for a family situation? Knock on wood, nothing happens, but life is life. And get that sort of resilience questioning going on in the business. I've made that mistake, too, which all of a sudden yielded me getting very, very deeply involved in a company that I didn't expect. So, those are just two examples of things I've also learned from pain, but hopefully, the prior ideas and prior input that I was giving you gives you the sense of the way that I've walked through and that I think it's good to walk through to be a good investor.
Allan 17:16
All right. Sameer, we got to hear this from the founder side. Now, tell us your advice and tell us your mistakes.
Sameer 17:24
Well, it's my first time starting a company. So, I haven't made any mistakes yet. I think, as an early stage founder, it's very easy to get caught up in the hype and marketing buzz. You know, we all just came back from RSA. There're fancy events, there's a lot of business wire, press releases, etc. And as an early stage, first-time entrepreneur, a part of me would get nervous. Oh, my God, look what's happening out there. Look at what everyone's building. Oh, we're so slow. I think taking a step back and saying, "Well, we are on our journey," right? We have supporters, we have backers, we have a real problem we're solving. And the fact that other people want to solve the same problem is validation that it's a real problem. That's what. There's a positive spin to all of this hype and marketing stuff that we see out there. The second thing I'd say, for an early stage founder, is to really focus on the customer and work backwards. What do I mean by working backwards? It's the customer has problem, but how
do you work backwards from that problem, to figure out the steps it takes to solve that problem, without just going off into a corner and saying, "I'm going to build a really cool solution for the customer?" And the problem with not working backwards, or not really kind of listening to the minutiae of what they're talking about, is you might miss the forest for the trees. It's happened to many a company that have great tech. So, it took us a little bit of time, but we've been very fortunate to find those evangelist, early adopters that you mentioned, Allan, that can kind of speak for a larger swath of customers, and that have the interest and the passion to delve deep into the problem with you, to a level of minutiae that most people want. So, if you can find those early adopters, those evangelist customers, if you will, that are willing to take a chance with an early stage company, take it and run.
Allan 19:06
I like that. And you end up giving them exactly what they need, right? But I guess there's that longerterm risk of now you've tailored a product that's great for company A and company A only, right? You have to keep that road map going with other ideas as well. Alright, so, let's switch gears a little bit here and let me ask both of you. We'll start with John. How would you recommend an investor go about finding and starting the dialogues with potential investees, with potential founders? Like, not what criteria are you looking for, but how would you even kick that process off?
John 19:36
So, in other words, if you're trying to figure out where to invest money, how do you find companies that are looking for it? Yeah, it depends on where you're starting the journey, but I would say this, there are some pretty interesting communities. For example, if you come as a CISO, there's the Bay Area CISO Forum. There're other investment groups that are doing it that you could join in and start to see portfolio reviews, and you can start to see multiple companies that are going across. I would always take and look at, "Hey, I just launched a stealth startup." If you see that on LinkedIn, I guarantee they're raising money somewhere. And if you know that person, even better, you can always enjoin yourself and hang out with Allan and go, "Allen, who are you talking to? What companies you're working on it? Who is your friend group? Are any of them raising money? Have you made any investments? Can I talk to you about whatever investments you're making?" You can also find people, oftentimes that are in venture capital teams, that too often or not, they may be a little bit later stage, but they'll know the deal flow of companies coming in that are starting to raise earlier money, seed rains, and that kind of thing. Or, if you really want to make a big bet, bet on yourself and start your own company.
Allan 20:44
There you go. Alright, that's my next move. I'm going to start Allen, Inc. We're gonna solve all the cyber problems, all of them. With zero false positives, by the way.
John 20:52
Is it a zero-trust architecture? I hope.
Allan 20:55
Zero trust, ML, AI and blockchain, and zero false positives, and its military-grade.
John 21:00
Phenomenal, and make sure it's international, supports multiple languages, has resiliency, is directly related to cyber insurance, and has a full underwriting authority in order to make sure that it could work in space for the next-generation customer.
Allan 21:15
Well, of course. If you're not targeting space, you're not forward-looking enough, I don't think. Sameer, how about you? How about your advice for finding those investors in the first place, right? Is it strictly the buddy network? Or, did you have other tools at your disposal?
Sameer 21:28
I think John covered it all. It's a network of fellow CISOs and security professionals. It's the VC.
Absolutely, some of the early stage VCs will bring you in, if you're interested in investing. They love it, because you could potentially help them think about the customer early on. And I think the other ones are the Slack channels that you and I are a part of, Allen. So, there's not a whole lot more than that, I don't think, that you can target.
Allan 21:54
Largely the network is what I heard from both of y'all. Although, John had some clever ones with farming the LinkedIn stealth modes, like that was a good tip.
John 22:00
If you want unsolicited interest almost at a high volume, high speed, post on LinkedIn that you're seeking to invest in startups. Trust me, you'll get plenty of people that are dropping you a note.
Allan 22:12
I get enough LinkedIn traffic today. With a post like that, I can't even imagine. Okay, we're gonna switch gears here completely, we're going to ask a question that we've been asking every guest on the show. And actually, let's see, should I ask the old question or the new question? I'm going to ask the old question, because I haven't asked this one of you yet, John. What is something you have learned outside of cybersecurity that has helped you in cybersecurity?
John 22:32
Being a parent has actually helped me quite a bit. So, different phases of parenting, right? You've got, essentially, full control while a child is very young and you're essentially just teaching them the very basics, but for the most part, you're in high-protect mode, and they haven't quite formulated their own thinking on things. Then, there's this chapter where they don't know everything, but they're convinced they know everything. And so, you've got a very different role as a parent. And then, pretty soon, you're no longer dealing with a 18-year-old or under, it's a person going off into the world and you're only there to listen and coach, and you have really very little directed control over anything. Believe it or not, startups have a certain flavor to that almost any given point. And they may be in different modes, but it's taught me a lot of humility. It's taught me how to listen better. Certainly, being a parents taught me how to be emotionally connected to something just as much as intellectually connected to something.
And I'm the first to tell you, I feel lucky, as many parents do, but I think being a parent of two great kids that are now not kids, they're off in that third chapter, I had the fortune of making a lot of mistakes before I made mistakes with the livelihoods of companies. So, in some respects, I learned on the fly being a parent, how to take some of those learnings and, of course, watching my parents in retrospective. I went through my journey, I learned a lot of lessons along the way, too. So, there's the outside realm, that's the lessons I've learned, and they're certainly the ones I'm still trying to put into practice and refining every single day.
Allan 24:00
Fantastic answer. Alright, Sameer, you have answered that question before, the last time you were on the show. So, I have a new one for you. You are given a magic wand and you are told you can change any one thing about the entire cybersecurity space. What's the one thing you want to change?
Sameer 24:15
That's a good one. Well, the one thing I would change. Well, I think the big thing for me has always been security is not just the CISO's job. And if there's one thing I could get across to our community as leaders, business leaders, is making security a mandate for everybody, almost like it's part of my— What's the word? My yearly plan, or my annual bonus, or my annual review, right? As long as everybody's bought into that kind of vision around security, then it won't just fall on one person.
Allan 24:51
I like that, get some more investment, get some more accountability towards security. Alright, well, gentlemen. I'll start with you, John. Any last thoughts or points on this topic, this conversation we've had? Anything you want to add?
John 25:01
Watch BalkanID. It's going to be fun to watch Sameer build this company and be successful in the market. So, keep an eye on him, when he starts to suggest that, "Hey, we're getting ready to raise funding again," you'll know who to talk to, because he's now well-known as a result of being on your podcast. And Allan, you're doing a great thing, and that's not to be self-aggrandizing because we're on it, but because you've been high proponent, and certainly a very big advocate, had a certain measure of humility and humor all the way along the way. But you've helped educate and bring to light topics that I think are very relevant and I've been a subscriber for quite a while, long before we had a chance to really get a chance to know each other. So, please keep this up. I think it's a great venue by which to listen.
Allan 25:44
I sure appreciate that. I'm trying my best to get luminaries in the industry. And then, I can sit back and let them shine and then, I get all the credit. Sameer, how about you? Any final thoughts?
Sameer 25:55
Just waiting for your check in the mail, so I look forward to that.
Allan 26:01
Fantastic.
Sameer 26:02
No pressure, no worries.
Allan 26:03
No pressure, no pressure.
Sameer 26:04
Always. It's been great to be on your show. I was here a few months ago and had a blast. So, thank you again for the opportunity.
Allan 26:10
Alright. I appreciate y'all, gentlemen, thank you so much for coming on down to the Ranch. Thank you, listeners. Y'all be good now.

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